What is Joint Commission Accreditation Like for a Virtual Hospital?

Gold Seal of Approval

What is Joint Commission accreditation like for a Virtual Hospital? That is actually a trick question. It isn’t any different from a brick and mortar hospital: a rigorous onsite review by a team of surveyors with expertise in ambulatory health care.

Just like other physical hospitals, SOC Telemed (SOC)  is evaluated for compliance with ambulatory care standards related to a variety of areas, including coordination of care, physician credentialing, management of medications, monitoring of clinical quality, operational infrastructure, security, and emergency procedures. “The only difference is that our patients are not onsite,” says Crystal Geller, RN, SOC’s Director of Quality.

“Telemedicine IS medicine,” says Dr. Tilman Jolly, Chief Medical Officer at SOC. “There are not different standards of care because our hospital is virtual. All the medical professionals and staff at SOC know what they are getting into in working here. We run a tight ship, down to the smallest details, and no one is exempt.”

“My number one priority is patient safety,” says Geller, “just like my counterparts at hospitals nationwide. We take our compliance with nationally-recognized standards of care seriously, and work hard to provide the same quality care that patients expect from their onsite teams.”

An independent nonprofit organization, The Joint Commission is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. Established in 1975, its Ambulatory Health Care Accreditation Program encourages high-quality patient care in all types of freestanding ambulatory care facilities. Today, the Ambulatory Health Care Accreditation Program serves 2,100 ambulatory care providers, with more than 8,500 sites of care, which, in turn, serve more than 83 million patient visits annually.

Joint Commission accreditation reflects an organization’s compliance with nationally-recognized standards of care and is valid for three years. “It shows that we are laser-focused on patient safety and our performance,” says Geller. “It provides public acknowledgement that we meet very exacting standards for the telemedicine consults we conduct.”

There is one difference between SOC and other hospitals, though.  And, it is obvious when guests tour the SOC facility in Reston. Mounted outside the Consult Coordination Center are two screens: one provides a map of the US with real-time information on the number of patient lives touched in the form of active and completed consults, and the other shows performance metrics such as time to video for physicians. “It is a real show-stopper,” says Anton Arbatov, MHA, CPCO, FACHE, Senior Director, Revenue Cycle and Enterprise Compliance. “Few hospitals can show this kind of real-time data, much less showcase it so publicly.”

SOC was the first telemedicine organization to earn The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval in 2006, and has maintained the accreditation each year since.